Sanitary repatriation: a guide to understanding everything

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Are you living abroad for the duration of a trip, or are you living there as an expatriate? Do you live in France but are on holiday at the other end of your home? Have you thought about taking out repatriation assistance insurance in the event of serious illness or accident? Do you know what conditions must be met in order to benefit from repatriation on health grounds? If you have no resources, how can you get help to be repatriated? Here is the guide to find out everything you need to know about medical repatriation.



What is sanitary repatriation or RAPASAN?

It is the transport of people with health problems to their country or town of origin in order to return home early. This transport is carried out in order to offer better quality care or better follow-up at the patient’s place of residence.

There are several types of medical repatriation: non-medical repatriation and medical repatriation. Different modes of transport exist: ambulance, train or plane. In general, from abroad, air travel for medical repatriation is recommended because it is quicker.


What are the differences between non-medical and medical repatriation?


Different repatriation programmes are possible depending on the physical condition of the patient.


  • Non-medical repatriation

This case of repatriation concerns the types of incidents such as a broken arm, for example, forcing the person to return to their country or city of origin to receive adequate treatment via different means of transport such as aeroplane. It does not involve health care personnel accompanying the patient. A medical vehicle can be provided for the transfer of the patient on journeys to and from the airport, if the patient is repatriated by plane. On long-duration flights, business classes may be offered.


  • Medical repatriation

Unlike the previous one, this repatriation will require the presence of a member of the medical profession throughout the journey back to the patient’s country or town of origin. This type of repatriation is necessary in the event of a serious illness or pathology, such as a stroke for example, which endangers the patient’s life. The accompanying doctor or nurse will ensure the patient’s safety during the journey, monitor the patient’s physical condition and medical conditions and apply appropriate treatment if necessary.


What is medical evacuation or EVASAN?

Medical evacuation is reserved for the most serious cases of pathologies or particularly serious health risks that require emergency repatriation. In this case, as medical care cannot be provided in the host country, a medical plane is chartered to send the patient to the nearest suitable hospital or, if necessary, to a neighbouring country. A medical team takes care of the patient during the entire evacuation process.

What are the conditions for medical repatriation?

Medical repatriation is subject to :

  • The patient’s medical condition.
  • The availability or unavailability of local medical facilities with the capacity to provide appropriate care.

These two conditions determine whether a person should be repatriated.

It is the medical team on site and, in general, the repatriation assistance service to which the patient has subscribed that decide together whether a medical flight is feasible, necessary or compulsory.


Who is responsible for the costs of medical repatriation?

The cost of medical repatriation to France can be covered in various ways:


  • repatriation insurance

Before a trip, it is possible to take out a repatriation insurance policy. Thanks to this, in the event of serious health problems (accidents, illnesses, injuries, etc.), the patient is then taken care of and repatriated to his or her home or to one of the hospitals adapted to his or her state of health. Before departure, it is advisable to find out about the state of health in the country of destination and to check the cost of health costs which, in some parts of the world, can be particularly high (e.g. Canada, United States, Japan). A subscription can therefore facilitate repatriation.

Is repatriation insurance useful if the individual dies abroad as a result of an accident? Yes, in general, the contract provides for special services such as coffining and repatriation of the body.


  • repatriation insured by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In cases of extreme emergencies and for patients who have no resources, financial assistance for medical repatriation from abroad can be granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In fact, depending on the demand and also on the available credits, the State may pay for the medical repatriation of a French national “free of charge”. There is therefore a round trip of the patient’s medical file between the Consulate and the local doctor to determine whether or not repatriation is necessary.


  • Reimbursement via Visa card

When a trip has been paid for with a Visa card, medical repatriation is automatically taken into account. The following family members are covered: the cardholder, his/her spouse or partner, children and grandchildren under the age of 25. Check the contract signed at the bank when you obtained the Visa card to find out up to what ceiling the patient can be reimbursed.


  • Reimbursement via Social Security or mutual insurance

-Abroad: depending on the patient’s country of origin, Social Security may intervene to cover part of the costs incurred during repatriation. If necessary, the patient’s mutual insurance company can take over. It is advisable to check with the organisations directly before leaving on a trip.

-In France: Reimbursement for medical transport in France can be up to 65% of the total amount. Cases of 100% coverage may be pregnant women over 6 months, newborns requiring hospitalisation, chronically ill patients, victims of accidents at work or certain pensioners. There are different modes of medical transport, but reimbursement of costs is based on the cheapest means of transport. For example, if you travel by air, Social Security will cover 65% of the cost of an economy class ticket.

Please note that if the repatriate does not return home in any of the cases mentioned above, then it is up to the repatriate to pay the transport and repatriation costs. If he is accompanied, it is also up to him to ensure the repatriation of his family members.


It is therefore advisable to find out about repatriation insurance companies before going abroad in order to avoid having to pay hospital or medical expenses out of your own pocket in the event of a problem. This is a guarantee of assistance that it is regrettable not to consider from the outset.

If repatriation is not necessary, the insurance can finance several services:

  • Shipment of medicines if unavailable on site.
  • For the insured’s relatives, a return ticket.
  • Coverage of medical and hospitalisation costs on the spot.



How much does a medical repatriation by plane cost?


Medical repatriation is a relatively expensive medical protocol. Indeed, the emergency related to the patient’s health implies finding air tickets in business or first class, which are generally at high prices. To this must be added the price of the medical attendant if necessary as well as the price of the appropriate equipment. If a medical plane has to be specially chartered, the costs incurred increase further.

  • Examples of prices :

-Medical repatriation with ambulance plane: 40,000 euros.

-Repatriation of a COVID case by medical aircraft: 15,000 – 20,000 euros.

Repatriation of a body: 1,000 – 5,000 euros.

Is free medical repatriation available?

Medical repatriation is never free of charge. Nevertheless, the costs incurred – or part of them – may be covered by repatriation insurance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the event of travel abroad, Social Security or the repatriate’s mutual insurance company.


How does a medical repatriation with AEROAFFAIRES work?


  • 24-hour service: AEROAFFAIRES’ air experts are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer charter requests or questions from the future repatriate.  They also provide follow-up until the patient arrives home or at the hospital.
  • Evaluation: Doctors requisitioned for a medical flight assess the patient’s condition and decide whether the flight is feasible, necessary or compulsory.
  • “Bed-to-bed” transfer: to ensure a smooth journey for the returnee, AEROAFFAIRES prepares his transfer from the airport to the hospital by ambulance for a quick “bed-to-bed” transfer with a highly qualified medical team.
  • Special pressurisation: a change in atmospheric pressure can cause major complications for some patients. We equip our aircraft with special technology to modify the pressure in flight and ensure a safe transfer.
  • Administrative support and full translation of important documents: the AEROAFFAIRES network of partners provides access to a sworn interpreter who will accompany the patient throughout his or her flight abroad. In addition, AEROAFFAIRES experts accompany and advise the patient on entering a country and setting up a specific medical service.


To obtain a quote, our air experts are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at any time on +33 1 44 09 91 82.


To go further, you can read the articles on repatriation between Morocco and France, repatriation of a body to Morocco, repatriation between France and Algeria or repatriation of a body to Algeria.